Jade Plants New Zealand

Crassula ovata " Kapiti Sunset "

The most popular and well known varieties are:

Crassula arborescens ‘Silver jade’, ‘lucky silver plant’, ‘blue bird jade’:
A compact, stocky and bushy variety with distinctive silvery blue-grey bloom over the leaves usually with red margins.

Leaves often have a soft upward curve or curl and some varieties have a distinct crinkling to the foliage. Stems are fleshy, thickened and rounded segments in green, grey to soft brown.

Nearly round flat-topped panicles of starry pink flowers are produced in winter when grown in full light and cool night time conditions.

Crassula ovata syn. C.argentea:
The classic lucky jade plant. The most popular and well know species. Leaves are dark jade green, smooth, shiny, firm, oval to nearly round, thick and fleshy.

Leaves appear opposite and often closely grouped along thick, fleshy round brown or beige stems.

Growth is fairly rapid, compact, bushy and well branched. Mature specimens often closely resemble bonsai trees on stout trunks.

Flowers are small panicles of white or soft pink starry flat flowers that bloom usually mid to late winter into early spring.  They make most decorative subjects for containers.

Crassula ovata ‘Bronze beauty’:
Another classic species altogether smaller and slower growing.

With more rounded lighter green leaves with a distinctive coppery or reddish sheen when grown in strong light to full sun.

Leaves usually revert to medium green and somewhat enlarge when grown indoors.

Small compact heads of starry white, off white or pale pink blooms appear winter to early spring.

Crassula ovata  ‘red tip’ syn. ‘california red tip’
Closely resembles the classic green jade in growth and habit.

But leaf margins have a distinct reddish or purple-red edge when grown in bright light to full sun.

Leaves revert to deep green when grown in shade or indoors and then become hard to distinguish from the classic green jade.

Flower panicles are starry white to nearly beige and appear in winter.

Crassula ovata ‘sunset’ and ‘sunset gold’:
These are a relatively modern group of spectacular and very lovely varieties featuring various shadings of chartreuse, cream, yellow and golden, into orange and nearly red tones often in mixed combination shades in each leaf that become much more pronounced when grown in full sun and warm, very sheltered aspects.

In strong partial sunlight the leaf edges are edged in gold to red. Leaves often revert to soft or medium green shades when grown in lesser partial shade or indoors.

These are quite rapid growers like the classic lucky green jade and make imposing large specimens up to 2meters.  Often flowers heavily with oval or round flat-topped panicles of cream to soft pink starry flowers mid winter to early spring.

Portulacaria afra:
‘Ming jade’, ‘money plant, ‘elephant plant’ are lovely varieties quite distinctive from the rest. Most have quite small, sometimes rather thin but fleshy, nearly round or oval glossy leaves appearing opposite all along stout stems. Leaves vary in colour, dependent on variety, from deep jade green to light yellow chartreuse and bright gold, while variegated varieties are various shadings of yellow and gold or milky white through deep red crimson with purple highlights. 

Stems are usually dark brown, round, fleshy and segmented. Flowers are oval to round flat-topped panicles of starry blooms in pink, light purple and lavender shades. These usually appear over the top of the plant in late summer-early autumn after the first rains return. Flowering is usually much better after a period of summer drought. Portulacaria is faster growing, hardier, more drought resistant, more loosely branched and open in habit than the crassula ovata species. Most make spectacular container specimens. 

Within the wild and variable portulacaria species there are many varieties; at least five green varieties within the larger leafed p. Macrophylla and four varieties within p. Microphylla.  Portulacaria prostrata and var. Prostrata are variably coloured trailing, mat-forming and weeping varieties. There are very attractive variegated variety forms in both the upright and trailing varieties.

Portulacaria ‘aurea’:
Is a modern hybrid variety with small light green leaves with a yellow centre spot and pink beneath.  P. ‘gold has bright golden yellow leaves that mature to a lime green. The spectacular ‘rainbow bush’ p. Variegata displays a variety of variegations from milky white through various green shadings with carmine red-purple tips to new growth and around the edges of each leaf.

Culture & growing conditions:  all portulacaria and most crassula originated from wild native plants of South African, found especially along the warm temperate and subtropical coastal and upland regions of southern Africa. Consequently, they prefer warm, subtropical, drier climates with lower humidity. Most jades are quite long-lived. They range from ground covers to shrubs, up to 1.5 metres (5 ft.) Tall and wide.

Temperature range: jades grow best in moderate rather than hot temperatures. They prefer day time temperatures between 18-24 c/65-75f degrees and nights between 10-13c/50-55 f degrees. Their botanical tolerance limits range from short periods of near scalding heat and drought downward to weeks of light frosts and chilling weather provided conditions remain rather dry.

Flowering usually occurs in crassula jades in mid-late winter into early spring. Crassula jades need a short day length and a succession of very cool nights in order to set flower buds. Flowers usually first appear a few weeks after the shortest day of the year. If plants receive considerable artificial heating and light they often do not flower or produce smaller displays.

Portulacaria jades seldom flower unless climatic conditions are distinctly South African. There the best displays can cover slopes and hillsides in a pink, purple and lavender haze shortly after rains return in the autumn following a prolonged period of summer drought.

All jades are intolerant of severe frost or freezing and cannot withstand prolonged periods of cold, rainy weather or chilling winds, especially if combined with night time freezing.  Jades tolerate more cold when their root stock remains dry and sheltered from direct freezing or freezing chill winds. The tops of plants are often burned by frost and damaged collapsed tissue often mats together to create a protective blanket which helps protect the crown against deeper frost damage.  Once frost danger has truly past, this dead protective layer can be removed and the plant will usually fully recover by mid spring.

Jades also resent tropical heat combined with high humidity or monsoonal damp that can quickly ‘cook’ their succulent stems.  But they are quite adaptive to droughty conditions and will withstand higher temperatures provided some light sun screening is provided and they are not allowed to completely dry out.

Light requirements: while most jades grow best in full sun outdoors they are quite adaptive to lower light conditions. They can be successful grown in as little as four hours of sunshine a day. Jades are also capable of growing as under story shrubbery or matting groundcovers beneath the shading foliage of taller natives. The green jade upright and matting varieties are especially good for partially shaded lower light situations outside or indoors. Coloured jades are at their best in strong nearly full sunlight and almost always revert to green when grown in partial shade or lower indoor light. The secret for sustained successful growth under lower light is to always keep the plants on the drier side, further reducing both water and feeding during colder weather.